The Wolf Among Us is in a difficult position. After a string of well known and fairly well received adventure games Telltale struck gold with The Walking Dead. Deftly telling a great story while simultaneously presenting how powerful episodic gaming can be. The Wolf Among Us is their follow up, sitting in the shadow of something as powerful and as widely acclaimed as The Walking Dead is a rough way to start. Expectations are high and reasonably so. Despite being aligned with a fairly unknown comic series: DC’s Fables, The Wolf Among Us is instantly engaging and quickly surpasses the first episode of The Walking Dead.
The Wolf Among Us pits the player as Bigby Wolf, who is the Big Bad Wolf of fairy tale fame. Except in the Fables world all the fairy tale characters have been forced out of their world and into ours. They must adhere to normal society and use spells called Glamours to mask their identities if they are non-human. Bigby is the sheriff of the Fables, he keeps them from giving themselves away and has to make sure they don’t reveal their true nature to the mundies or the mundane people of New York City. The plot centers around Bigby defending and trying to keep the Fables from killing one another or revealing themselves. This proves difficult with characters such as Grendel, The Woodsman, Bluebeard and others natural inclination for violence and mayhem. This heightened by the fact that normal life is tough and many are forced to live in less than perfect conditions, turning to drinking, fighting and prostitution to survive.
Similar to The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us focuses mostly on dialogue between characters and key choice moments. You control Bigby, questioning and conversing with characters. Using your controller or mouse to scan and interact with the environment to gain information or progress. The episode is punctuated with multiple violent and chaotic fight scenes, each making for some thrilling and brutal sequences. The controls work well enough and I had no difficulty with the quick time events. The events where still fast enough to make them challenging and interesting. The episode ends with an especially intense fight that made me look forward to future battles in the upcoming episodes.
The Visuals are superb, with a style mixing Hotline Miami’s 80’s themes with classic film noir. This makes for a beautiful and varied color palette with an intense and ominous synth soundtrack that perfectly fits the mood. The style is similar to The Walking Dead but is much smoother, containing no framerate issues or the glitches abound that I encountered in their previous outing. Sadly this is not the case on console. While the PC versions presentation and performance is flawless the consoles framerate is jittery and constantly draws the player out of the world. It isn’t a huge problem but it can break any sense that you are focused on this world and characters. Ultimately one should play on PC, the controls are well suited and its performance is much better.
The Wolf Among Us presents a case for being an even better experience than The Walking Dead. The tone is more consistent, the characters varied, unpredictable and likable. The world is gorgeous and intriguing with drunken, smoking pigs and famous fairly tale characters getting murdered and betrayed as if in a crime drama. The Wolf Among Us ultimately drew me in quicker and held me to the gripping conclusion of its first episode more than I ever expected. I loved The Walking Dead but The Wolf Among Us already shows their growth and I cannot wait for more. The choices are heavy and it begs to be played again just to see what else can happen. Bigby is a flawed and interesting protagonist, seeking redemption for past deeds and is generally poorly regarded among his peers. He makes for a great character who I already like even more than Lee and the lack of a moral compass like Clementine helps the player have more agency. It felt like my decisions were made without outside influence, not because some specter of a child was influencing me to be good or bad.
Faith was a perfect opening to The Wolf Among Us and is easily recommended. The world is just so damn cool and it somehow makes kids fairy tales relevant and mature, its hard not to be hooked. Despite my love for The Walking Dead I have to say that episode 1 for The Wolf Among Us has me looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store. Where as I thought I was going to be waiting for The Walking Dead Season 2, I think that I will be looking forward the rest of The Wolf Among Us even more. A fantastic adventure game and a perfect example of how to make episodic gaming work, you could do much worse than playing The Wolf Among Us.
+Great Voice Acting
+Dark, gripping noir story
+Chaotic, Brutal fight scenes
+Waiting For The Next Episode
-Console Version Framerate
-Waiting For The Next Episode